After piped water, the pump becomes redundant,
the handle chained down at the side: at rest, if you like.
The pump turns into “what we used to have”,
but no one’s minded to get rid of it.
With war declared they strip it down and oil it
in case Hitler bombs the reservoirs, but
water stays on tap. It’s part of the yard,
with the paving in dark blue brick sluiced out
with a broom down to the drain.
A piece of ironwork painted green,
rusting into the wall, all of a piece.
It’s what they call “the vernacular”.
Flowers in tubs do brighten it up, the pump
redone in white, the name of the foundry and the date
picked out in black. It punctuates the composition,
sets off the door to the kitchen, the stone basin
where they used to put the bucket
planted up with nasturtiums that trail.
The place all spruce for the visitors,
now the redundant pump can stand for
all the strength it took the kitchen girl to crank it
and crank it till the steely water came up at last, and at last
she could find time to become somebody’s grandmother.
Somebody look at the pump and think of her.
© Peter Daniels
First prize in the TLS Poetry Competition 2010.